Home secretary Priti Patel unveiled some shiny new post-Brexit immigration controls this week.
They’re modelled on the ‘Australian points-based’ system that was banging on about for the entirety of Brexit negotiations and unsurprisingly, it’s horrible.
Under the new rules, those earning under £25,000 per year will not be allowed entry to the UK unless the government deems there to be a shortage in the particular sector (for example, nurses will have a lower annual salary threshold to meet, of about £20,480).
But others earning under the £25,000 benchmark will be deemed ‘low-skilled’, which is how Priti Patel described them during an interview with BBC Breakfast.
She even admitted, in a later chat with LBC Radio, that her own parents – who migrated to the UK in the 1960s – would not have been able to move here under the new rules.
They’re not alone; there’s a whole host of workers who would be unable to bring their talents to the UK according to Patel’s draconian new proposition.
Here’s a few to chew on; some are currently exempt but that could change and besides the point is: ‘low-waged’ doesn’t equal ‘low skilled’. Whatever Priti Patel thinks.
Average annual salary: £12,500
Salaries for social carers can start from about £16,000 per year but obviously that doesn’t mean it’s low-skilled.
On the contrary, social care is a hugely demanding job that involves long hours at unsociable times, massive amounts of empathy and a real nurturing streak. Looking after vulnerable people or those who need some help to get on with their daily lives is hardly low-skilled. The care sector also has a shortage of around 11,000 staff (that’s one in every 11 posts not filled) and foreign nationals make up a sixth of care workers in the UK. It’s not on the exemptions list though, which could mean an even bigger scramble to fill the gaps.
Average annual salary: £20,015
This job might sound like the answer to a pub quiz question but phlebotomists are essential to the NHS. They’re clinical support workers who take blood samples from patients and send them for processing. Which, as anyone who has been sick knows, is a major part of diagnosis.
Average annual salary: £15,000
Eight per cent of the UK construction workforce is made up of EU migrants. All I will say here is: have you ever tried to do DIY more complex than assembling an IKEA flat pack? Yes? Then you know this is not a low-skilled job. And the UK needs a LOT of construction workers.
Average annual salary: £24,000 (starting)
Radiographers do a very complicated and fiddly job that involves lots of specialist equipment and is absolutely essential in order to diagnose diseases like cancer. Honestly, I would pay to watch Priti Patel thrust into a situation where she had to operate an X-Ray machine. PAY.
Average annual salary: £24,414 (starting)
There’s a mental health crisis in this country already due to a lack of trained staff in what is a very complex and difficult area to work in. But – once again – according to Patel, if you’re paid under £25,000, that means you’re low-skilled. So by that logic, we must simply dismiss the role of helping people to work through trauma and mental health issues as something anyone off the street could just do. Makes sense!
Average annual salary: £14,000
Less than 1 per cent of UK farm workers – that includes roles from fruit pickers to animal herders – are British nationals. Because Brits don’t want to work on farms, apparently. Or perhaps wages are just so low, they refused to. Either way, these people make our agricultural industry go round and if you think back-breaking manual labour, or deft picking work is ‘low-skilled’, I’d ask you to spend a day outside on a Herefordshire dairy farm instead of in that comfy ergonomic chair in your centrally-heated office.
Hotel room attendant
Average annual salary: £11,500
Britain’s tourism industry is one of its biggest money makers. But where would it be without the silent army of people who keep hotels and the like running smoothly? Do you actually think that having to run around all day, cleaning, organising, answering the needs of guests, all while keeping a smile on your face, is easy or takes a smaller skillset? It doesn’t.
Average annual salary: £22,866 (starting)
Although physiotherapists can eventually earn up to £40,000 per year, at the beginning of their career, they’re looking at around £22,000 for a good chunk of time. But physiotherapists are integral to getting Britain’s population moving and helping those who’ve suffered movement impairment, recover. It’s highly specialised work. Does helping people re-learn to walk sound ‘low-skilled’ to you?
Average annual salary: £24,214 (starting)
Paramedics. You know them. The people who save lives. Think that says it all.
Average annual salary: LOW
I would not be allowed in the UK under Priti Patel’s new points system. And I think we can all agree that it would be a loss this nation would never be able to recover from. Nor do I think Priti Patel would be capable of banging out five to six news stories in a day; low-skilled my ass!
So think on that.